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Brazilian Love Affairs

Brazilian Love Affairs

The Brazilian press
is in love with Brazil’s Finance Minister,
Antônio Palocci. One of the reasons for this crush is the

media’s distrust of President Lula’s chief of staff, José
Dirceu,
who is regaining his power after losing it. This just shows how

the Brazilian media manipulates the news when it wants to.
by: John
Fitzpatrick

Palocci
Leftist Lovers 1

A section of the
Brazilian media has fallen in love with a new sweetheart
finance minister Antonio Palocci. He was the subject of a fawning
profile in Veja magazine and there have even been reports
that he might be a presidential candidate for the Workers Party
(PT) in the 2006 elections.

The
Estado de S. Paulo newspaper, while not going as far
overboard as Veja, has been plugging any bit of positive
economic news as though it meant we were no longer in a crisis.
The front page lead story on June 12 announcing that “Retail
sales surpass expectations” was typical of the kind of positive
spin the paper has been putting on news recently.

One of the reasons
for this crush on Palocci is the media’s distrust of President
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s chief of staff José
Dirceu who has lost much of his power and influence since one
of his aides was involved in a bribery scandal.

There
are signs that Dirceu is regaining his strength and the press—most
of which loathes him—is trying to replace him with Palocci.
Since Dirceu has much more influence with Lula and the PT than
Palocci this ploy is unlikely to work. However, it shows just
how the Brazilian media manipulates the news when it wants to.

Leftist Lovers
2

If you
think the Brazilian Senate is a place for dignified speeches on
the future of the country made by statesman who have the interest
of future generations in mind then think again. The Senate recently
witnessed a touching demonstration of peace and love by Senators
Eduardo Suplicy and Heloisa Helena who openly kissed on the floor
in front of other members.

Maybe it was just
a collegiate cuddle from two ideological allies or maybe it
was their way of marking the upcoming Dia dos Namorados, Brazil’s
Valentine’s Day. What next—wedding bells?

At least
this display will bring to the attention of the public the heroic
efforts this great constitutional body is making in resolving
the problems facing the country. One of its latest ways of helping
Brazil overcome these problems has been to appoint a Senator accused
of diverting loans from the state development bank, the BNDES,
to the body which oversees the federal accounts.

Salvation
Army?

São
Paulo is hosting a meeting of the United Nations Conference on
Trade and Development, a body which has the kind of unlovely acronym,
UNCTAD, which is so common here such as CEAGESP, CEASA, FAPESP,
SABESP, FIESP, CESP, MASP and so on.

The presence of hundreds
of political leaders, international bureaucrats and the media
has allowed the city authorities to feel that São Paulo
is taking its rightful place on the world stage.

However, apart from
some hoteliers and presumably the local ladies of the night,
most people are either uninterested or fed up because the event
has led to even more traffic chaos.

Security
has been stepped up and armed troops have taken up positions in
the streets—not to protect us locals from the gangsters
and murderers amongst us but to look after the distinguished visitors.
Although this is a special case, the issue of soldiers assuming
greater responsibility for public security is becoming increasingly
topical.

Troops have recently
been sent to Minas Gerais and Piauí to help the state
governments there following strikes by the local police. Many
people like having soldiers and armored cars patrolling the
streets despite the fact that the military ran the country for
two decades and deprived the people of their rights rather than
defended them.

While
there is no political or military movement which wants the armed
forces to return to the political arena this feeling shows how
democracy is failing to provide the people’s need for security.

The decision to send
Brazilian troops to take command of the UN peacekeeping force
in Haiti has been criticized in several quarters. It is common
to hear people ask why these troops are patrolling slum areas
of Port-au-Prince instead of Rio de Janeiro or Brasília.

Caetano
– Better Get Rid of Your Accent!

If you are a fan
of Caetano Veloso then don’t read any further because you won’t
like what I say. If you are Caetano Veloso then read on because
I am going to give you some useful advice—don’t make any
more CDs like your latest, A Foreign Sound.

This
is one of the weirdest collections of songs ever assembled by
a grown man and raises doubts about Veloso’s judgment as he gets
older. It includes songs like "So in Love" by Cole Porter,
"It’s Alright Ma" by Bob Dylan and "Come as You
Are" by Nirvana.

The strangest of
all is his choice and version of Paul Anka’s “Diana”.
This was a smash hit in the late 50s and is a good example of
the kind of rather naïve innocent teenage music which was
to be overthrown by the rock revolution.

People
like Anka, the Everley Brothers and Dion would soon be swept aside
by the barbarians at the gates led by the Beatles, the Rolling
Stones, Bob Dylan and later on by heavy metal gangsters.

Veloso is about 40
years too old to sing “Diana” and does so in a slow,
pretentious way with slushy backing strings as though he were
trying to seduce someone in a Roger Rabbit-style nightclub.
His accent makes the whole effort sound like a parody.

This
is particularly strange because Veloso is fluent in English, the
result of the time he spent in exile in England during the military
dictatorship. He even wrote his song “London, London”
when he was still picking up English. This might explain the bizarre
lyrics e.g. “I’m wandering round and round, nowhere to go/
While my eyes go looking for flying saucers in the sky.”

As far as I know
no Portuguese version exists, presumably since it would be impossible
to make sense of it. In these circumstances you would think
Veloso’s ear would be better attuned. No-one expects him to
sing like a native speaker but in this particular case he should
have sought some advice.

Veloso
is not the only good Brazilian artist who loses his way singing
in another language. Gal Costa, for example, who has one of the
most beautiful voices of any female singer, has recorded some
appalling versions in English, such as “The Fool on the
Hill” and “The Laziest Gal in Town”.

Ed Motta, Roberto
Carlos and Sandy and Junior are others who have flopped in English.
One exception is Marisa Montes whose version of Lou Reed’s “Pale
Blue Eyes” is haunting. She also sings an unusual but
passable live version of George Harrison’s “Give Me Love”.

Before
singing in English again Veloso should recall the advice to the
Puerto Rican girls in the West Side Story number “America”
– “Better get rid of your accent.”

Scolari Stumbles

I’m
sure I was not the only person in Brazil who was pleased to see
Portugal getting beat by lowly Greece in the opening game of the
European football championship held in Porto. My pleasure was
not the result of any antipathy to the Portuguese but to their
Brazilian manager, Felipe Scolari, who abandoned Brazil immediately
after leading the national squad to its World Cup triumph in 2002.

The Portuguese must
now be regretting their decision. Not only has Scolari’s record
been unimpressive but his chances of overseeing his adopted
team win the second most prestigious football championship in
the world now look slim.

Ratinho
Outdoes Himself

I have
written about the Ratinho TV show several times expressing my
distaste at the tripe it presents—physically deformed people,
dwarves, grave robbers, obese transsexuals, midgets etc. However,
I have to compliment him on a recent item which surpasses any
of his previous feats—an item entitled “Man Wakes
Up During His Own Autopsy”.

Unfortunately this
interview was not accompanied by a film, unlike one of Ratinho’s
previous scoops which showed a pederast doctor fondling a drugged
teenage boy he was allegedly giving a medical examination.


John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited
Brazil in 1987 and has lived in São Paulo since 1995.
He writes on politics and finance and runs his own company,
Celtic Comunicações – www.celt.com.br
– which specializes in editorial and translation services
for Brazilian and foreign clients. You can reach him at jf@celt.com.br.

©
John Fitzpatrick 2004

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